I inquired with the support of justcloud.com telling them that I have a vmware vm that I was wondering if it could be backed up while in use. I can back up the vm once it is shut down but I was wondering if their "shadow copy" would back it up while running.

This was their response:

Thank you for your email.

I am really very sorry but virtual machines can't be backed up for a simple reason that they are virtual, they have virtual memory, not physical memory.

Please let me know if there is anything else I can help with.

Kind Regards,

Barry James User Experience Team www.justcloud.com

These are physical files so I wasn't sure I even understood the response. Am I wrong in thinking that a vm can be backed up while in use? Does this response even make sense?

I need a cheap alternative to backing up the vm off the server in case it goes down.

Any suggestions?

  • 2
    boy time to move away from justcloud. how about communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-8760 – tony roth Oct 25 '12 at 13:21
  • There are only like a bazillion products that can backup a live VM. Try Google to find one that fits your needs and budget. – joeqwerty Oct 25 '12 at 14:46
  • @joeqwerty thx for the 'constructive input' but I have and they all want a fortune to backup. I'm looking for an affordable or free backup solution for a very very small company. – ErocM Oct 25 '12 at 14:58
  • @ErocM "a fortune" is relative. And shopping questions are off-topic. – MDMarra Oct 25 '12 at 15:14
  • Veeam offers a free product, Trilead offers a free product, etc., etc. The free products don't have all of the features of the paid versions but they will all backup a live VM. Maybe you should take a little more time in evaluating your needs, budget and constraints and then post those here so that we can provide more insightful answers. – joeqwerty Oct 25 '12 at 15:19

Shopping/product recommendations are off-topic, but I will address the technical inaccuracy in the response that you got.

A VMDK is a virtual disk, which is a container that contains all of the files in your VM. It is very possible to back this up, and all enterprise products support this. The way that it works is that the filesystem is quiesced and snapshotted. Then the volume is backup up and the snapshot is merged back in. This ensures a consistent backup of the entire VM.

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you can use Veeam products for live backup of any vmware vm


another solution is this:


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  • first link is quite expensive, at least for my needs, and second link does not work – ErocM Oct 25 '12 at 15:02
  • @ErocM - maybe you should exercise a little more dilligence in your research. Veeam offers a free product. veeam.com/virtual-machine-backup-solution-free.html?ad=menu – joeqwerty Oct 25 '12 at 15:21
  • veeam does not support vmware workstation – ErocM Oct 25 '12 at 22:18
  • vmware workstation? is this a production system? I would highly recommend NOT using workstation for this purpose. – Rex Jan 16 '13 at 16:32

I personally use ShadowProtect to image the machine itself, it will package the backup as a .spf file from which you can restore to metal or back to a virtual machine in minutes, alternatively you can convert the .spf files to VHD.s

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in the VMware workstation 8 you can convert all vhd , virtual hard disk.

or move them from your server to your backup storage

VMWare Converter - Cloning Hard Drives‎

Convert VM to external hard disk‎

V2V conversion attempt but hard drives ...

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I have starting using this tool HVBackup, it's open source and works great. It snapshots the VHD using VSS. It's very simply to use and does not require an install.

http://hypervbackup.codeplex.com/ < you can download it there.

The syntax is also very simply;

cd C:\Users\Administrator\Desktop\HVBackup
HVBackup.exe -l SBS -o E:\Backups\SBS (replace SBS with name of your VM)

You can schedule it with Task Scheduler if you specify it to run with the highest privileged, and run regardless if your logged on.

Only complaint is it, packages the VHD in a .zip file which is entirely understandable to minimize disk space, but it adds another lengthy process if you are storing the VHD (unzipping it).

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  • 1
    -1 user already states this is a vmware virtualization product and in some of his comments, seems to indicate it is running in vmware workstation. Doesn't do much good to recommend a hyper-V only product. – Rex Jan 16 '13 at 16:31

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